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Friday, December 31, 2021

Party Like it's 2022 - Day 31

  Hey, it's almost 2022, and I'll never make it to midnight, so I'll pretend. But I have completed a full month of hiking.

Tonight I got to the meet the youngest person to thru-hike the Buckeye Trail, Dain Sutton. He finished a few months ago at age 18. hikers

His grandparents, Dave and Cathy, are our current trailer hosts. couple

We briefly went to a New Year's party at Dain's parents. Everyone was so generous and in a party mood, I'm afraid I was just a wet blanket. I'm really bad at doing parties anyway, and I was very tired.

I banged out 16.5 miles today, and 15.5 of them were on hard surfaces. Very hard on the legs, but all is well. Total so far: 453.8

I have to go to bed. Sorry for the short post. Happy New Year, everyone!

See Two Canals - One Junction

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Two Canals, One Junction - Day 30

  One of the first places I walked to today was the tiny village of Junction. This first picture isn't much of anything- a long view of the metropolis. Junction isn't much of anything. 30 years ago when I was here, the few houses standing were in poor condition with yards filled with junk and broken down cars. I am sorry to tell you that nothing has changed.

But Junction used to be someplace very important. Junction Ohio

The Wabash-Erie canal came east from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the Miami-Erie Canal came north from Cincinatti. The two canals met and became one at Junction. From there, they continued on to Lake Erie.

Dealing with two canals and various other waterways was sometimes quite an engineering challenge. Canals had to be nearly level with changes in elevation accomplished by means of locks. However, local natural waterways already had their own stream beds. What do you do when they cross each other at different elevations?

Here's one solution. In this surviving culvert, Little Flat Rock Creek was sent underneath the canal. Pretty impressive! Little Flat Rock Creek culvert

On the road bridge at (big) Flatrock Creek you can see evidence of canal era stonework, so I'm thinking that waterway was also somehow diverted or controlled. Since it also crossed the canal, it must have been dealt with. Flatrock Creek stonework

As I was walking along, I saw this rounded stone and said to myself, "That's a mile marker." Sure enough there's an interpretive sign. Which is good since the number is unreadable. But it's mile marker 181 from Cincinatti. mile marker 181 Miami Erie Canal

A bit farther on is Lock 21. This one is in pretty good shape. There is also another constructed channel next to it, which had to be either overflow or feeder water. Keeping the correct level of water in the canal at all times was no simple feat! Lock 21

Here is my current helper, Cindy, and her fur friend, Bridgee. They have been walking out to meet me at the end of the day. When I see them coming, I know I'm close to finishing! walker with dog

Now let's go back and talk about the trail. Some of today was nice towpath trail. In most places you can still find the old canal prism- see the depression to the right of the trail? It may have more or less water in it. There are only a few places where it has been restored to a nice waterway, but whether it's cleaned up or not, it's amazing to think about boys leading the mules that pulled the boats for miles and miles and the people and products that traveled by that means. From the 1830s to the late 1800s, canals were commercially important. Railroads were taking over by that time, and the great flood of 1913 damaged a lot of the canal infrastructure, ending the era. towpath trail

Here was today's adventure. This is the view from the top of the Little Flat Rock Creek culvert. You may be able to just see blue blazes down there. The trail was supposed to go across that and come out to the road. Ha! I wasn't interested in getting wet to my knees. flooded trail

I bushwhacked down the other side of the culvert and managed to get across with only wet feet. I knew that was probably inevitable today anyway, so I can't complain.

Yesterday I was tired, achey, cranky, and wondering if I could really do this hike. Today, I felt strong and energized and confident. The difference? Who knows? I just have to take things one day at a time.

Miles today: 15.6. Total miles so far: 437.3.

See Defiance

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Defiance - Day 29

  Thank goodness Defiance, Ohio was in the middle of this day. Otherwise, it was a day pretty much without merit except that it covere miles. However, I love Defiance.

Part of the mission of the North Country Trail is to showcase historical features of the northern United States. There are several places along the trail that are just packed to overflowing with history, usually because of some strategic location. Defiance is one of these. Imagine if an enemy invader could control the traffic and capture any goods that came through a major interstate junction, such as I-80 and I-94.

That's why Defiance was so important, although it wasn't yet called by that name. The location is the confluence of two great rivers: The Maumee (flowing west to east from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Lake Erie) and the Auglaize (which comes from the south). And rivers were the transportation corridors. On this point of land at the confluence, General Anthony Wayne stood and declared, "I defy the British, the Indians, and all the devils in Hell to take this place!" He thus became known as "Mad Anthony Wayne," and the location was called Defiance. Defiance, Ohio

This area has also been the location of several Native communities. Men who became well-known chiefs were born here, including Pontiac, who very nearly reclaimed the colonies for the Indians. He captured most of the frontier forts; only Detroit outlasted his efforts, and he lost the support of the other tribes. The marker commemorating him was unreadable, so I won't bother with a picture.

More peaceful men are also associated with the area. This was one of the homes of John Chapman, Johnny Appleseed, and the site of his first nursery. Although everyone things he mostly handed out apple seeds, he actually planted nurseries all over the midwest, since seedling trees were much more valuable. Johnny Appleseed marker

This rock is labeled "Blue Jacket's Chair." Blue Jacket was a Shawnee Chief of significant importance. He allied several tribes and led them in the battle of Fallen Timbers, where they were defeated by Mad Anthony Wayne. I don't know if this was a rock where he actually sat to preside over meetings. I'd love to spend a week or more just researching things in Defiance. He was rumored to have been a white man turned Indian, but DNA tests of descendants have ruled this out. Blue Jacket's chair

The marker on this circular monument is old, but the bottom part is new. This commemorates the largest apple tree on record anywhere. It was 9 feet in diameter, and in 1872 bore 200 bushels of apples. The tree died in 1887. The actual stump of the tree used to be there, semi-preserved with cement. I guess the last of it rotted away, and they replaced it with the granite replica. largest apple tree stump

There were at least two forts built where Defiance now stands, and a third nearby. I have a hard time shutting up about Defiance, once I get started, but I will.

The rest of the day was raw and damp, with a lot of road walking and no place to take a rest. The final indignity was a half-mile of actual towpath trail near the end of the day that could be described as a chain of lakes. wet trail

But my current helper, Cindy, picked me up and whisked me back to Marianne's where we had baked macaroni and cheese. That's about my top comfort food!

Miles today 17.1. Total miles so far: 421.7

See The Bridges to 400

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Bridges to 400 - Day 28

  Today I passed the 400 mile mark, and a tour of the bridges along the way is interesting. There were a lot of these fiberglass bridges placed by Henry County where the trail had to cross the canal for various reasons. This one is really new- but laid on original stone abutments. There aren't even approaches yet, but I managed to climb up (and down). bridge over canal

This is Damascus Bridge which crosses the Maumee, so I only passed over the approach. This is an historic site. Kickapoo Indians occupied it from 1742 until their village was destroyed by General Anthony Wayne in 1794. In the early 1800s a trading post and sawmill were built here and named Damascus. There was a village on the opposite side of the river, and ferry service. With the canal on this side of the river, Damascus was the busier town. As was true so many places, the railroads were the downfall of canals, and the village disappeared. Only the name remains... attached to the bridge. Damascus Bridge

This is a bridge for the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad, sometimes known as Henry Ford's Railroad. He got tired of not being able to control the supply of materials to his factories, so he bought a rail line. Previously it was a wandering, mediocre line, but he made it profitable and then sold it to the Pennsylvania RR. Since it ran north-south, it intersected all the major east-west lines, providing Ford with products. The tracks are still in place on this section of railroad. DT&I overpass

A bridge of sorts, a box culvert provides safe passage for hikers under a busy construction driveway. box culvert on trail

Here is a abutment for another track of the DT&I RR, where the track has been removed. I love how design used to be important, as well as functionality. DT&I Abutment

A road brige took me over US 6, oddly empty. US 6

The trail passes under this State Route 109 bridge over the Maumee. State Route 109

And here's a bridge over a canal feature. I believe this has to be an overflow gate for feeder water for the canal. You can just see the bridge across the top through the trees. canal overflow

It was a very nice day for hiking with temperatures in the mid 40s, until 2 pm. Then I walked in rain and then snow for 1.5 hours. But I wasn't cold. The drive back to Marianne's was a little hairy in sloppy wet slush, but I made it.

Miles today: 16.4. Total so far this trip: 404.6.

Now for the bonus section! In, I believe, 2006, Ester and I came down here to spend a week on a work crew that was building new trail. What I walked today used to be a horrible, dangerous road walk. We worked on some of the pieces I walked today. This nice gentle curve around a culvert does not have a huge root to trip on. curve in a trail

That's because Ester and I dug it up!
woman with a tree root


And, here on the left, you might notice that at some time in the past this trail has been benched into the bank. I did that! It's so rewarding to come back years later and know that you helped make this real. benched trail.

See Buckeye Blue

Monday, December 27, 2021

Buckeye Blue - Day 27

  Today I joined the Buckeye Trail/NCT, and began returning westward toward Defiance, Ohio. This is on the towpath of the Miami-Wabash-Erie Canal that ran along the northwest edge of Ohio, parallel to the Maumee River. It was a drizzly, foggy morning. The large island visible is one of the "Missionary Islands" that supposedly have Native American sites to see. I'll have to come back! Maumee River

Bill hiked with me again. This picture is taken at Providence Metropark where, in summer, there is a canal boat to ride where they put you through a lock, and the Ludwig Mill to visit that uses the power of falling water from a canal overflow. When it's operating, it's one of the coolest places on the trail. I love the canal history! hikers

Buckeye Blue is not the same color as NCT blue. So for the next 800 miles, I'll be looking for these blazes. This one is on a honey locust - not the friendliest tree in the forest! blue blaze on a honey locust

Speaking of trees, here's another species that mostly grows a little south of where I live. This is hackberry. When it is mature, the bark is really funky! hackberry bark

I love, love, LOVE all the canal history in Ohio. This is a watered section of the canal with a wider towpath, so it looks very much as it might have in 1850, for example. Miami Wabash and Erie Canal

Here are the remains of Lock 43. I must have hundreds of pictures of old canal locks, but I never seem to get tired of taking more. lock 43 Miami Wabash & Erie Canal

After Providence, there are more places where the towpath remnant is a narrow corridor in the former right of way and the canal profile only looks like a ditch (on the right). Of course, there would not have been any trees between the canal and the path or the tow ropes couldn't have been used. towpath trail

This is very cool! This double stone culvert under the road was built in 1842 by James Durbin (he was head engineer). As you can see, it's still in great condition and in use. Sorry about the wet hazy conditions, but you wanted to come along with me. James Durbin Culvert

The fog increased as the day went on. Finally, we could not tell the river from the sky, and this log floating in the river just seemed lost in space. log in fog

Miles today: 16.7 (not sure it felt like that, but that's what the map says). Total so far: 388.2

See Oak Openings

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Oak Openings - Day 26

  Today was a real treat, walking through Oak Openings Metropark. It has that name because the early settlers found the trees were widely enough spaced that they could drive their wagons through without clearing. The ecosystem is Oak Savannah, which is scattered oak trees with an understory of grasses.

The day began frosty. frosty morning

I was hiking with Bill and his daughter Lizbeth. Marianne met us at this location so we could get a picture of this sign, on the final approach to Oak Openings on the Wabash Cannonball Trail. This mile is dedicated to her husband, Tom, who was the Manager at Oak Openings for 30 years. He died just a couple of years ago.
Tom Duvendack mile


Next, we were joined by two other human hikers and two dogs. Here is one set. This is Lorie and Tigger. Lorie's story is wonderfully inspiring! She has serious health issues, but she has lost over 100 pounds and completed Hike 100 this year. She has even helped with some trail work. She hiked a short way, and then needed to stop.
hikers


Here is a section of the Oak Openings that is being restored. This is what the area should look like. It has to be maintained by fire, so it will be a while before they can manage to get a lot of the second-growth forest replaced by what was historically present. oak savannah

Frosty goldenrod and oak leaves. The evergreens in the background will eventually all be gone. frosty plants

This is a section of restored prairie with the other set of hikers who joined us. This is Deb and Willow. It's so neat that the NCT catches bits of many special ecosystems.
hiker in prairie


And here are Deb, Willow and me. OK, maybe I'm a little taller than Deb, but I must have been on higher ground. This picture makes me look huge! hikers with dog

Bill, Lizbeth, and me at the bridge at the end of a section Deb helped build.
hikers on bridge


Most interesting find of the afternoon was a Hen of the Woods mushroom. This one was past its prime, but if you find one fresh, it's really good eating. hen of the woods mushroom

Miles today: 15.5. Total miles so far: 371.5.

See Christmas with Marianne
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